Often lost amidst all of the shouting, screaming, ‘lewd comments,’ leaked emails, and scorching hot takes this week in our presidential—not that either candidate has come across has anything of the sort—election is that there is a whole world out there with actual problems, issues, and needs.
Today northern Nigeria is facing a famine which UN Assistant Secretary-General Toby Lanzer described this week as “unlike any we have ever seen anywhere.” The problem is a combination of global economic factors (Nigeria relies almost exclusively on oil-exports to stimulate its economy, and the global oil market has dropped off considerably), government corruption, and, most pressingly, continued violence and terrorism. All of these have led to food shortage. For the last three years crops have not been planted and basic commerce has been brutally disrupted.
The ongoing war between the Nigerian government and Boko Harem, the radical Islamic militant terrorist group has been steadily pushed back in recent months but which still controls swathes of territory in northern Nigeria and which has sworn loyalty to the Islamic State as the would- be Caliphate’s North African providence, has left thousands of Nigerians dead and millions more displaced in the predominantly Islamic northern part of the country. According to Lanzer “We’re now talking about 568,000 [people] across the Lake Chad basin who are severely malnourished, 400,000 of them are in the northeast of Nigeria.” Additionally the UN leader said that “We know that over the next 12 months, 75,000, maybe as many as 80,000, children will die in the northeast of Nigeria, unless we can reach them with specialized therapeutic food.” He added that over 6 million more people are “food insecure” and at risk of starvation.
This is a true humanitarian tragedy, spurred on and directly caused by the senseless violence sowed by Boko Harem and ISIS. When these types of crises occur the question is always, “Who will help?”
I have always been keen on the United States Navy’s most recent recruiting slogan, which proclaims that the Navy is a “Global Force for Good.” More broadly I have always liked to envision the United States itself as a global force for good. Obviously we as a nation often make poor decisions around the world, and obviously America is not perfect. However, the United States is often on the front lines of humanitarian crises around the world, and hopefully will be in Nigeria as well.
In Nigeria, rapid action by the United States could save literally millions of lives. I have written to my representative and would encourage you to write to yours asking that they consider advocating for America to send food and other humanitarian supplies to northern Nigeria. The President has already sent troops to Nigeria to help battle Boko Harem, but this is bigger than just terrorism.
All that said, while I would like to see the American government send assistance because it has the ability to do so, I do not believe that it is the responsibility of the government to do anything at all. While I do call upon and encourage the American government to send food, supplies, and military advisers to northern Nigeria, I also understand that these kinds of relief efforts do not constitute the role of a state. At its most basic level the role of a state is to enforce laws within its borders and to protect its citizens; anything on top of that is extra and should be seen as so.
Thus I would encourage you, as an individual, to donate today. With all the news about the reliability of the Red Cross and other organizations it can be difficult to determine which charity will actually make the best use of your money. The charity to which I have given and which I would highly encourage my readers to give to is the World Food Program, or WFP. According to Charity Navigator “WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, reaching more than 97 million people in 80 countries with food assistance last year. “ They are directly involved in getting food to northern Nigeria today (as well as to other places experiencing starvation and food insecurity issues around the world).
There website can be found here: https://www.wfp.org/emergencies/nigeria.
The crisis in Nigeria is terrible and wrong. While there is not too much that we as individual citizens can do, it is only right for us to do all that we can to help as much as we can.